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Over 100 guillemots found covered in sticky film

Guillemots Credit: John Giles/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Hundreds of seabirds have been washed up on the south west coast, covered in an unidentified sticky substance and causing the RSPCA being called to the rescue.

Guillemots have been found along the Dorset and Devon coast between Weymouth and Torquay. Many have sore legs and are covered in a greasy film.

The birds are being transported to the RSPCA's West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset, where efforts are being made to clean them. Early signs are that they are not responding well.

Substance on guillemots is 'not fuel'

An RSPCA manager has said it is "too early" to assess how successful the organisation's attempts to help the 100 guillemots washed up on the south west coast will be.

Peter Venn, RSPCA West Hatch manager, said:

The numbers of birds arriving in to our centre are growing and we are doing all we can to help them - but it is too early to tell how successful these attempts will be.

We do not know what this substance is or where it has come from yet but we do know it is not fuel. It may be bi-product from manufacture, but at this stage we just do not know.

We would urge anyone who finds any of these birds to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

There are also reports of the sticky substance washing up on the beach, so we would urge people walking their dogs in the area to also be careful.

– Peter Venn, RSPCA West Hatch manager

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Fears rise Britain's native bird population is dying out

There is worrying evidence that more of Britain's native bird population is dying out.

A group of conservationists say the UK has been losing an average of one breeding pair every minute since 1966.

The species worst affected by the decline are House Sparrows and Wrens.

ITV News' West of England Correspondent Emily Morgan reports on what is behind the alarming decline:

Fog and windy weather kills migrating birds

Thousands of migrating birds have been dying before reaching England this week because of an appalling combination of fog and winds around the coast, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Some fishermen have told the charity of the deaths of many exhausted and disorientated "garden" birds plunging into the sea around their vessels, a spokesman said.

England's east coast, from Northumberland to Kent, has seen the arrival of many birds, including redwings, fieldfares, bramblings and blackbirds, perhaps numbering in their millions.

MPs criticise bird poisoning laws

In the past decade, birds of prey poisoned included 14 red-listed golden eagles, six white-tailed or sea eagles and 109 red kites. Credit: PA Wire

Hundreds of birds of prey have been poisoned because the Government has failed to fully implement laws designed to protect them, MPs warned.

Rules brought in six years ago made it an offence to possess poisons used to kill birds of prey, but an order listing which poisons it was illegal to have was not introduced, the Environmental Audit Committee said.

A report by the committee found wildlife protection laws are in a mess. In some cases efforts to tackle crimes are being hampered by rules that are "almost Pythonesque in their absurdity".

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